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Ofgem rejects Scottish wind links, calls for revised proposals

Two planned electricity transmission cables linking Scottish islands to the mainland have failed to win approval from the U.K. Office of Gas and Electricity Markets.

SSE PLC subsidiary Scottish and Southern Energy Networks, or SSEN, had proposed a 600-MW link connecting to the Shetland Islands, but the energy regulator, or Ofgem, said it was unable to approve the plans.

The regulator said its decision was based on the 457-MW Viking wind farm, one of the projects to be connected to the grid via the transmission link, failing to secure subsidies in the U.K.'s third contracts for difference auction, held in September.

"The award of these subsidies would have provided confidence that the wind farm is likely to progress, and protection for consumers from the risk of paying for an underutilized transmission link to the Shetland Isles," Ofgem said in an Oct. 23 news release.

SSEN had also proposed another 600-MW link from the Western Isles to the mainland, which Ofgem said it was similarly unable to approve. Some 240 MW of wind capacity on the Western Isles was awarded contracts in the CfD auction, but this was less than the 369 MW required to support an investment case.

However, the regulator said a revised proposal for the Western Isles link, proving customers would be appropriately protected from the risk of paying for an oversized cable, could be reconsidered.

SSEN said that the developers of the Viking wind project on Shetland — which includes parent company SSE — were still committed to developing the site. It added, "[If] a way forward can be found to deliver the additional capacity required on the Western Isles, sufficient generation on both island groups will be established to demonstrate the need for both links."